Opening the Sunday and final day of SOS Fest 2018 was the young Metalcore outfit, Avarus(8); what better way to wake you up. Avarus packed a serious punch, loaded with screams, growls, harmony and screeches, they had all the hallmarks to make a serious dent in the metal scene. Brandishing some impressive brutal shreds, they showed some incredible promise; using all the tools of the trade from the massive earth-shaking bass percussion, this is definitely a band to watch. What a great start way to start the final day. Gemma Fox(7) gave us her usual performance that has been a stalwart for SOS Fest for a number of years; her powerful, husky voice has become synonymous to the acoustic stage much like Phillipe ‘Wizz’ Beauprez of whom the stage is named after. Gemma gave us everything we come to expect from her professionalism and incredible ability to banter; ever the crowd pleaser, Gemma gave us her version of Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ to end her double sets. Always a pleasure to watch, Gemma is fast becoming a legend of the festival.
Taking to the main stage, Quiet the Thief(5) gave us their take on Stoner Metal with a nice blend of Hard Rock and Grunge; the lower tempo, catchy riffs, gravely voice were all the ingredients to make Quiet the Thief fit in nicely on their slot. It’s not anything we haven’t heard before, generic, but pleasant rock that would do very well in the background whilst busy working. It’s as if Iron Maiden had gone back in time, Midnight Prophecy(6) certainly don’t shy away from their allegiances; riffs that feel like they belong in Iron Maiden’s back catalogue, Midnight Prophecy definitely know their influences and so does every metalhead under the sun. Notwithstanding, they certainly are showmen, much like their idols; the lyrics are old school Maiden too, bringing up memories of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Powerslave. Most definitely entertaining, but still a blatant copy of the British legends. Adding the crazy to the day, Voodoo Blood(9) dominate with their incredible Gothic style Blues Metal. Like Aretha Franklin of crack, vocalist Kim Jennett bounced off every surface, including the “Do Not Stand On” tables that separated the crowd from the stage; gyrating and pulsating, Kim was like a Duracell bunny drinking its cool aid. Stunning bluesy riffs and thumping gothic overtones, Voodoo Blood were mesmerising in sound and visual dominance. This is a band on the rise, and an absolute diamond in the rough; Manchester does have a habit of making these bands.
Better late than never due to unfortunate circumstances, ever the trooper Liz Owen (7) braved the acoustic stage for a quick visit and a few tracks. Liz provided us a haunting symphony of vocal excellence protected by her wooden blanket that she played stunningly. The set felt rushed and for good reason, this showed in her nerves which let her down slightly. Her Sandi Thom aspect was certainly on show and showed the great talent she has in her arsenal; don’t take it away from Liz Owen, the stunning locality of the young lady is truly breath taking when out in force. Much like a frenzied Speak Easy lounge music splattered with Bluesy Rock, Dorja(6) looked splendid on stage; the all-female group had signs of style, but Dorja was a bit too much swallow for my liking, which confuses me because, historically, they should be a band I could get behind and adore. Something about the band just doesn’t sit comfortably for me; lyrically, they were good enough, a bit piercing at times vocally but all in all very powerful and melodic, the riffs were comfortable and catchy, the bass lines silky and the percussion solid and yet as a whole I found them generic and forgettable. However, they were enjoyed by the majority of the gathering crowd with a great showing of fans swaying away to their blues style speak easy metal.
Chris Appleton(7) once again showed off his ability as he took to the acoustic stage to show off his solo work and some Absolva classics along the way; Chris was his ever-present showman, with the crowd up and personal. Ending with a nice rendition of ‘Mamma I’m Coming Home’ in memory Phillipe Beauprez, a very close friend to Chris. The main stage was next on the list once more as Fragile Things(7) took to the stage. The incredible vocal ability of Richie Hevanz… sounded so much like Tobias Sammet giving them an Avantasia smell; the charisma of the whole band was incredible, bounding around the stage with energy to spare. The riffs were catchy, fluid and full of venom; the bass lines added a deep depth to the sound, coupled with the rhythmic percussions, it showed just how good Fragile Things were. However, when it came to charisma, showmanship and ab solute talent, you couldn’t look further than the incredible Ryder’s Creed(10); they were in their element, blasting out blistering tunes for the stunned crowd to witness. The incredibly catchy riffs were hypnotic and infectious, the vocals harmonic and melodic, spreading their incredible upbeat Alternative Rockand the crowd went mental for it. The amazing chemistry blended with the glorious high tempo sound made Ryder’s Creedan outfit that just dominated the stage and the crowd.
The final band to grace the acoustic stage was the dynamic duo Breaking Waves(8); the ex-Exit State pair showed off a unique transition of semi-unplugged Alternative Rock. Though normally just drums and bass, Breaking Waves provided a new flavour to their music with the acoustic guitar in the place of the bass. The use of double amps pumping through the acoustic guitar gave them a brilliant sound, a sound that permeates their music. It was an absolute treat to see Ireland and Hicks back on stage, where they belong. The penultimate act of the weekend came in the guise of Trad Metallers, Falling Red(8); influenced by the greats of the late eighties like Poison,Thunder, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi, their infectious high tempo vibe as felt by all on show. The riffs were catchy, anthemic and even had the cliched ballad thrown in that is so synonymous to the scene; Hair Metal Revival is on the rise and it may be time for that revival to come to pass, after all, metal is all about regeneration. Ending the weekend with the incredible Massive Wagons(8) was a stroke of genius; their infectious style of Hard Rock anthemic tunes went down a treat. Pulling in the biggest crowd of the weekend, Baz of co. rocked the night away with some of the smallest wagoner’s you could find. The quintet oozed charisma and their tracks bled quality; so addictive, their music resonated with the throng. busting at the seems with amazing songs, Massive Wagons had everyone hooked from the chord. Baz got the crowd involved with their hands high in the air, soaking up every drop of adrenaline creates by the fuel injected tracks.
What a weekend this was, I have been to the past 8 SOS Festivals and each year they somehow surpass themselves. This year was no exception and now with the announcement by Chris Appleton during his acoustic set to quash the rumours, SOS Fest XII is on! and I think I’m not the only one to be excited at the prospect of who will play next year… bring on 2019!